There is us. Our Family. We will hold our precious gift and know that we are lucky . . .
From the outside looking in, Kelle Hampton had the perfect life: a beautiful two-year-old daughter, a loving husband, and a thriving photography career. When she learned she was pregnant with their second child, they were ecstatic. But when their new daughter was placed in her arms in the delivery room, Kelle knew instantly that something was wrong. Nella looked different than her sister, Lainey, had at birth. As her friends and family celebrated, a terrified Kelle was certain that Nella had Down syndrome—a fear her pediatrician soon confirmed. Yet gradually Kelle embraced the realization that she had been chosen to experience an extraordinary and special gift.
With lyrical prose and gorgeous photography, Bloom takes readers on a wondrous journey through Nella’s first year of life—a gripping, hilarious, and intensely poignant trip of transformation in which a mother learns that perfection comes in all different shapes.(Summary provided by William Morrow Paperbacks.)
The memoir Bloom begins with Kelle Hampton eagerly anticipating the birth of her second child. Like any expectant mother she wonders if she’ll have a boy or a girl. She has showers and begins making a birth plan. When Kelle finds out she’s expecting a girl, she wonders what she’ll be like and is excited for her daughter Lainey to finally have a sister in addition to her two older brothers. She imagines the special bond Lainey and soon-to-be-born Nella will have as sisters. On the day Nella is born, Kelle arrives at the hospital with a heart full of joy and excitement over the new addition the family is about to welcome. She even has favors to pass out to her friends and family who come to visit her in the hospital. Then Nella finally arrives, born as her birth song is playing in the background. Kelle and her husband Brett would soon receive surprising news that would change their lives: Nella has Down syndrome. Kelle’s first reaction is akin to grief. Her dreams of the “perfect” sibling for Lainey are shattered.
But what is perfection? Kelle’s story of coming to terms with and embracing her beautiful Nella is at times painful, joyful, and above all utterly honest. I first came across Kelle Hampton’s blog, Enjoying The Small Things, this past December. In a post full of reindeer runways, fairy gardens, beautifully wrapped presents, and gorgeous children simply titled, “Christmas,” Kelle presented a series of beautiful pictures of her family and discussed how they celebrated the holiday. I learned from that first visit to Kelle’s blog that she had a memoir, and I quickly ordered it.
Bloom is accompanied by beautiful photography throughout the book. Just about every chapter has photos from the events she describes accompanying the text. I read the hardback version of the book and was unfamiliar with Nella’s birth story. I was blown away by the power behind Kelle’s words. The fact that she was able to acknowledge what many women in her situation are probably scared to put into words for fear of what others will think is brave. Despite Kelle’s initial reaction on the day of Nella’s birth, it is impossible to read Bloom and not see it as the story of a mother who loves her family with all her heart. In the new paperback edition of Bloom, there is an extra chapter. Kelle gives a brief update and says the following about Bloom and eventually reading the memoir with Nella one day:
It will take several nights of course -chapter by chapter- but I will read to her through tears and heartache and the bittersweet pain of tender memories. During the hard parts I will hug her, I will kiss her hair, I will thank all that is holy that she is mine. But she will know. She will know that Bloom is a love story and that the gift of her life is a blazing call for us to wake up and live fully.
I highly recommend Bloom to anyone who is a mother, a daughter, or a sister. It is truly inspiring.
*Bloom hit especially close to home for me because my little brother has severe autism. While reading the book I thought about my mother and how she might have felt when she got my brother’s diagnosis. I remembered being in the room when the doctor told my parents, and I remembered the sadness and tears. I also remember the joy my brother brought and still brings to the family. Just because a story starts off sad doesn’t mean it can’t have a happy ending…
Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on the Bloom tour. Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour:
Tuesday, April 2nd: Book Club Classics!
Wednesday, April 3rd: Tina’s Book Reviews
Thursday, April 4th: Lavish Bookshelf
Monday, April 8th: 5 Minutes for Mom
Tuesday, April 9th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Wednesday, April 10th: From L.A. to LA
Thursday, April 11th: A Patchwork of Books
Monday, April 15th: The Well-Read Wife
Tuesday, April 16th: Mrs. Q: Book Addict
Wednesday, April 17th: The Betty and Boo Chronicles
Friday, April 19th: Momma Jorje
Saturday, April 20th: Words of His Heart
Saturday, April 20th: Simeon’s Trail
Sunday, April 21st: Unringing the bell
Monday, April 22nd: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, April 23rd: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Thursday, April 25th: Suko’s Notebook
FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for review from the publisher, and I make a small commission off of any purchases made by clicking through the Amazon links on this site.
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